Canada and the EU - Foundation Office Canada
The first trade agreement the EU signed with an industrialized country was the 1976 Framework Agreement with Canada under Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau. The Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA) with the European Union entered into force in 2017 under the government of his son Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. As part of the CETA negotiations, the EU wanted a separate binding agreement, the Strategic Partnership Agreement (SPA), that would link the trade negotiations to international social, environmental and human rights commitments. Canada resisted these links arguing they were instituted for the EU’s relations with other states without Canada’s long democratic traditions. The EU prevailed maintaining that making exceptions would make recognition and enforcement of these universal commitments more difficult. Canada finally agreed and is now grateful that it did. The SPA opened the door to fruitful discussions with the EU on major world issues: democratic principles, rule of law, peace and security, climate change and sustainable development, multilateralism, terrorism, migration and border enforcement and protecting personal data. In order to cooperate “on major domestic or international developments”, the Agreement put in place a consultative process starting with annual summits between the Prime Minister and the President of the European Council, regular foreign ministers’ meetings and routine contacts among their officials. The SPA now has 30 “dialogue groups” drawing officials together from Canadian government departments and EU directorates. With 20 trade and related committees meeting under CETA, Canada and the EU are now engaging in 50 different fields. This analysis will look back to Canada’s European foundations and forward to what a Canadian ambassador has called a “Firm Foundation” based on CETA, “the gold standard” of trade and economic cooperation and what another has called “a golden moment” with the SPA.